A major blow to Israel's binary options industry?

Tel Aviv District Court's ruling shuts down the binary options platform called Fair Trade.

New York Stock Exchange (photo credit: REUTERS)
New York Stock Exchange
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In what could be a major blow to the binary options industry, the Tel Aviv District Court has ruled that certain entities within the sector must register with the Israeli Securities Authority.
Though it was signed last Thursday, the ruling was first announced Monday and has already led to the shutdown of the large peer-to-peer binary options platform known as Fair Trade.
The binary options industry has been home to a vast amount of fraud during the past decade, during which companies cheated billions of dollars from victims across the globe.
Technically, the ruling dealt with G.G. Fair Trade, a binary options trading platform. But since the Securities Authority declared that, due to the nature of its activities that entity would be required to register or be shut down, the decision appears to apply to a wide swath of such entities.
This was clearly reflected in the court’s rejection of one of G.G. Fair Trade’s arguments against the Security Authority’s decision.
G.G. Fair Trade objected that no specific factual finding about its individual activities had been cited.
The court rejected that argument, saying the Securities Authority’s characterization of the nature of binary options and G.G. Fair Trade’s activities and its need to register, was a more general legal argument and was valid.
More specifically, the court wrote that its agreement with the Authority requiring G.G. Fair Trade to register was based on the purpose of the law regarding securities in Israel – to protect the general public from abuse and fraud.
Also, G.G. Fair Trade itself claimed that an obligation to register could seriously harm it, forcing it to shut down since it has not yet registered, – an argument the court swatted away as irrelevant, especially in light of the industry’s poor reputation.
Further, the court rejected any argument that, since other similar entities have not yet been compelled to register, the Authority’s demand to register was arbitrary.
Rather, it said that the Authority has discretion about the order in which it starts to enforce the law, particularly regarding new entities which have not previously come under its oversight.
In addition, the court said that the Authority is needed for that oversight, since unlike in other industries, there is no current real effective regulation of binary options.
Moreover, the court said past rulings that seemed to exempt binary options from Authority supervision were not binding, as the problematic nature of the industry was just recently becoming clear to the public.
The ruling came out of a petition by G.G. Fair Trade against the Authority’s order to register.
Independent of the court ruling, the Knesset is now considering a bill to explicitly ban and shut down the entire industry in Israel and has already passed a law banning Israelis from investing in binary options.